I think it’s very important for people to understand not to be silent about it. That’s why I wrote the books I have and that I do things like this show. Shame and guilt are two self-conscious emotions that everyone will feel several times throughout their lives—but they can create distress and dysfunction if left unchecked. Guilt is an emotion you may feel when you think you’ve done something wrong or hurtful.

  • Understanding the roles they play can help you learn to properly cope with them and recover from addiction.
  • Shame and guilt are two self-conscious emotions that everyone will feel several times throughout their lives—but they can create distress and dysfunction if left unchecked.
  • Now, now, having made that distinction, what’s to be done about this?
  • Shame is different from guilt in that it is focused on the self rather than on specific actions.
  • Talking about your feelings will help you to understand them better and make them more manageable.
  • But I’ve asked clients, what do you feel in your body around shame, and I’ve gotten a number of responses.

I’ve done a lot of work on this over the years. Both my parents are deceased, I’ve visited and revisited and revisited this with them. It does work with repeated passes with regular practice. But I knew that for me, in recovery, that mindfulness would be one of the resources I really wanted to explore.


This can help you become a better person and avoid making the same mistake in the future. It can cause you to engage in destructive thoughts and behaviors that lead to more wrongdoings. Shame can cause further hurt for yourself and others down the road.

As a result, the person may start to feel shame. Generally, guilt causes addiction and addiction causes shame. A guilty conscious often brings about feelings of shame, but the two don’t always go together. Sometimes, a person may be ashamed of something they can’t change, such as a genetic condition or a perceived flaw in their appearance. Shame can also come from challenging social situations or trauma.

The Impact of Shame

Guilt may be related to the harmful things you did, but also to the things you promised you’d do and didn’t follow through with. Guilt is an appropriate response to these revelations, but should not be clung to once apologies and amends are made. Only when you stop living in the past shame and guilt in recovery can you see the present. Recognize yourself as a human- mistakes were made, and you will make more. Life in recovery is about finding out who you really are, and how you can live a better, more productive life. Find strength in your new life and take joy in its possibilities.

shame and guilt in recovery

Violence, aggression as well as eating disorders are common causes of shame. Depending on how bad the levels of shame are, one may suffer mental problems, such as depression or substance abuse. Shame and guilt can prevent a person from seeking treatment.

Why Do People With Addiction Feel Shamed By Society?

As the drug epidemic impacts more and more Americans, access to substance abuse programs is more critical than ever, particularly those that address dual diagnosis care and support. While guilt and shame often go hand-in-hand, they’re two different psychological feelings and belief systems. Guilt usually pertains to a person’s sense of having done something wrong. Shame, on the other hand, is that a person is somehow wrong or defective. Many people crippled by shame battle against the pain of it. It can lead to a person feeling hopeless, worthless, or even unwanted.

  • Shame and addiction are co-occurring disorders that often appear together.
  • It’s also common for you to seek comfort from others or apologize for your actions when experiencing guilt.
  • The midbrain gets activated in active addiction, it shuts down the forebrain.
  • The chronic feeling of unworthiness and inferiority can make a person feel undeserving of happiness, health, life, and even love.